Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Peonia tenuifolia aka Fernleaf Peony

Anyone familiar with the gloomy state of recent weather in Lucas County will know that this is not a current photo; in fact, it was taken on April 6, 2012, in a year when spring came very early indeed.

This Fernleaf Peony (Peonia tenuifolia) is blooming, then and now, on the Hickman family lot just to the left as you drive into the Chariton Cemetery; others are blooming nearby.

The variety came up in conversation elsewhere yesterday --- and I couldn't recall its name. So here it is this morning. 

Unlike standard peonies, which will burst into bloom in maybe three weeks, Fernleaf is a very early variety and comes in one color only --- deep red. There is a double fernleaf, too, also deep red, but it's rarer.

These rarely show up in garden centers, I'm told, because they're more difficult to propagate than standard peonies and so more expensive. Their feathery foliage makes them distinctive as does the fact they're smaller than the standards. Blooms last about a week.

Once established --- and I believe the planting secret is to not bury the crown too deeply --- they are as hardy as the later varieties and will go on forever, if left alone and not mangled by lawnmowers or over-enthusiastic trimmers.

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